CL/175/11(a)-R.2- 13 -
Geneva, 1st October 2004
(a)Upon their arrival, all prisoners are examined to assess what medication they need. In cases of diabetics such as Mr. Fletcher Dulini-Ncube, the complications that may arise are well known and it was highly unlikely that such requirements were neglected.
(b)During the night, the use of leg irons in a prison hospital is a routine security measure applied to all prisoners facing serious charges.
(c)Remand prisoners are given a uniform; this is for security reasons. However, when they appear for the first time in court, they may request permission to wear civilian clothes.
(d)The Police has unrestricted access to remand prisoners from 8 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. only. They may be taken out of prison for a period of 14 days.
(e)Solitary confinement has been outlawed by the Supreme Court.
It should be recalled that many of the opposition MPs concerned were arrested and detained under provisions of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), which came into force on 22 January 2002, before the presidential elections of 9-11 March 2002, and replaced the former Law and Order Maintenance Act (LOMA, enacted in 1955 by the Rhodesian authorities). The POSA has been widely criticised as giving the police sweeping powers and restricting fundamental rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
6.2.1.Adoption of the POSA
Minister Chinamasa declared that being “bent on overthrowing the government illegally and forcefully”, the opposition overtly disobeyed laws “to create a situation of anarchy”. The former Law and Order Maintenance Act was not adequate to tackle the situation and it was therefore replaced with the POSA, which was adopted in Parliament without division. The Leader of the Opposition stated in this respect that the MDC had voted against the POSA and had argued for division until four o-clock in the morning.
According to the written notes of the Commissioner of Police, a copy of which was given to the delegation, the POSA was “put in place to deal with unique situations prevailing in the country and it specifically deals with political crimes. The Act seeks to ensure that there is law and order, peace and security for all in the country”.
6.2.2.Provisions concerning the holding of public meetings: law and practice
Minister Chinamasa pointed out that, under the provisions of the POSA (Part IV - Public gatherings), organisers of a public gathering were only bound to notify police of the meeting. The POSA did not require authorisation. He said that the notification of the police was aimed at enabling it “to put together machinery to avoid violence”. If police considered that there was a risk of violence, they were entitled to order the organisers to hold the meeting somewhere else, but not to prohibit it. The Commissioner of Police confirmed that only notification of public gatherings was required and pointed out that, contrary to other countries where notification had to be given seven days in advance, the POSA required only four days’ notice. However, there were cases when other persons might assemble in the same place, or there was a risk of destruction or damage, or a police station was depleted of manpower. Authorisation was given but the police were entitled to ask the organisers to take care of security arrangements. The Police always requested information on a planned gathering and if it was not provided then “the authorisation was withdrawn”. He stated that an authorisation could be withdrawn even one hour before the gathering took place if, for example, a weapon was discovered. In any case, it was the duty of the police to maintain law and order in any situation.
The opposition stated that they had to operate in a very repressive environment and that, in fact, an authorisation was required to hold a public gathering. It was often not given on various grounds, e.g. lack of sufficient manpower. Ms. Khupe, for example stated in this respect that on 16 June 2002, she and others had organised a meeting to commemorate the Day of the African Child. The day before the meeting, police had informed her that they did not have the necessary manpower and that the meeting could therefore not go ahead. When she reached the meeting venue the next day to inform the people accordingly, the riot police was deployed; they told the youth who arrived that they had to disperse. Ms.